Fantasy Journalism

Time Magazine recently engaged in what I would call “fantasy journalism.” Others might call this the “what if” school of reportage.
by Jim Fair | Source:
The genre goes something like this: the reporter or editor has a point to make that would be shocking to readers, in other words “newsworthy.” He then finds an expert who can support the idea and that justifies reporting on the possibility.

In Time’s case, the fantasy report is that Pope John Paul II did not did die a natural death, but was euthanized. This, of course, would fly in the face of Church teaching. And you have to know that there was an “expert” somewhere who would suggest such a thing.

Time used as its expert an “intensive care specialist,” Dr. Lina Pavanelli. She said she based her conclusions that the Pope was, in effect, killed on “her medical expertise and her own observations of the ailing pontiff on television, as well as press reports and a subsequent book by John Paul's personal physician.”

Now I confess it has been quite a few years since I attended journalism school, but it seems to me that if you are going to suggest that someone was killed in such a manner you would need more than personal expertise and time in front of the television. How about a witness to the event? How about some sort of scientific evidence? How about the sworn testimony of the nurse who pulled the plug?

Frankly, without such serious support, Time is reduced to reporting a rumor, at best, and attempting to further an agenda, at worst.

What sort of agenda? Well, let’s just imagine (which doesn’t take much effort) that Time, like most of the media, has a rather liberal view of the world. So, its reporters and editors probably figure that euthanasia should be permitted in some cases. But, or course, there is that powerful Catholic Church with an opposing, pro-life point of view. But if it turned out that the Pope was euthanized, well, what would happen to the moral authority of the Church. Hey…you can’t be opposed to something the Pope did!

Well, for Time and everyone else, I have a news tip. Based on my expertise, watching television, reading press accounts and reading the many books of the Holy Father and other in the Church, I’m quite certain that John Paul II was NOT euthanized.

As for Dr. Pavanelli, maybe she has been watching too many of those Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) television shows. In the real world, you have to base a charge of euthanasia on more than an hour of prime-time programming.

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